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The big news in Gamecocks land is that the regionals begin today. We’re taking on George Mason. Since Leftover Hot Dog has such a nice preview up, I’m just going to direct you to his post for more info on the game. Comment on the game in the comments section if you like.
The other big news today (actually, yesterday) is that Memphis’s basketball program is now mired in a huge academic fraud scandal that happened on new Kentucky coach John Calipari’s watch. The situation apparently involves former Tigers star Derrick Rose. Apparently, Kentucky and the NCAA knew about the situation before Cal took the Kentucky job. That makes this the second time Calipari has had a situation like this happen under him without actually being implicated in the situation. The first involved Marcus Camby at UMass back in the 1990s.
I’ve previously come out in defense of Calipari against those that have accused him of running dirty programs. My thinking has been that folks are quick to jump on Cal because he seems to be able to do the impossible, namely bring players like Camby and Rose to schools like UMass and Memphis. While I’m still willing to recognize the possibility that Calipari really had no control over this situation, I’m now a little unsure on how to judge him. I think it would probably be prudent to wait this one out and see just how much Cal know about the situation, especially considering that the NCAA and UK athletics have come out in defense of him. However, we often throw the phrase “lack of institutional control” around in reference to coachs that have been involved in scandals like this. While I was willing to give Cal a pass for the one instance that he might have been implicated in lacking reasonable control of his program, when it happens twice it begins to become more of a trend. If I were a Kentucky fan, this would certainly be a little unsettling to me.
One other tidbit today–Heisman Pundit has up a list of the ten most overrated coaches, and Steve Spurrier makes number one. While I think HP might not quite appreciate how hard it is to win at South Carolina, I really can’t argue too much with this choice. However, number two jumps out at me: Jim Tressel? Look, I enjoy seeing Ohio State lose as much as any southerner. However, Jim Tressell absoluately owns his conference. He finishes in the top 10 and plays in a BCS bowl almost every year. He has one national title and has played for two others. I wish I could have an overated coach like that. HP claims Tressell is overrated because he has lots of talent but fails to win the national title, but Senator Blutarsky reasonably asks why Pete Carroll isn’t on the list if this is a criteria. I would have to agree. It’s not that I think Carroll should be on the list, but I just don’t think any reasonable person can call Tressell overrated. He may be fun to laugh at when he loses the big game, but simply put he’s been extremely, extremely successful. He’s not overrated, even if his team occassionally is.